HALIFAX, NS, Aug. 7, 2020 /CNW/ - Northern Pulp workers and their families have been betrayed by the McNeil government with its refusal to allow the company to use third-party financing to pay severance.
"Our lawyers and Northern Pulp all agreed it was essential to pay workers the outstanding severance owed to them but the Nova Scotia government refused," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "I am not surprised - this government has consistently abandoned forestry workers. Their pettiness is hurtful to those families struggling through unemployment, through no fault of their own, and enduring a pandemic. The government ought to be looking out for its citizens and not punishing them to make up for its own historical blunders."
The BC Supreme Court did approve Debtor-In-Possession (DIP) financing in the amount of $15 million, far less than the $50 million the company was seeking, to cover operational and environmental costs through the end of 2020. The court refused multiple suggestions from union and company lawyers to see severance paid due to the Nova Scotia government's opposition.
"The refusal to allow the company to pay severance feels like another deeply personal attack against workers after Stephen McNeil made such promises to help the forestry sector transition following the Northern Pulp closure," said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director. "We're not pleased the relationship between Northern Pulp and the Nova Scotia government is so strained that workers are being caught in the crossfire."
Northern Pulp and its parent company Paper Excellence still have a contractual obligation to pay workers severance. Unifor will continue to speak with government and company officials to demand the outstanding amounts be paid.
"With a Forestry Transition Fund looking for ways to support those affected by the Northern Pulp closure, I can think of no better use right now than for this fund to pay workers their severance," said Dias. "It would be a show of good faith from a government that has so far left these workers and their families high and dry."
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 24,000 in the forestry sector. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
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